Sammamish 2-5 Bellevue
During my pre-game talk, we spoke a lot about the combination of patience and quickness: having the poise to pick the simple and easy pass, but with anticipatory and quick decision-making. It seems like an oxymoron (patient quickness?), but it's the style of soccer that I want from our girls. Its the fraction of a second delay that freezes a defender before making the pass. It's the awareness of where you want the ball to go well before you receive it. It's the simple back-pass instead of forcing the ball into traffic, the incisive forward pass to a striker's feet that bypasses the midfield, or the two-touch switch out of a congested area. It's committing a defender before you put the ball into space, at the right pace, that sets your teammate up for success before she's even touched the ball.
But if "patient-quickness" is a bit too zen for the casual soccer fan, we also talked about launching at least 20 shots while holding the Totems to less than 5 chances. Sometimes objective goals are easier to understand than the subjective ones.
And versus Sammamish, we got closer to the type of football that we want to play. Both from the zen-like "patient-quickness" measure, and that we ended up with 21 total shots versus 3 for Sammamish. Regardless, my favorite metic was in bright lights on the scoreboard: Bellevue 5-2 Sammamish. A very good beginning to our 2017 Kingo title defense.
We couldn't have had a better start as Kiley shone in her season debut seemingly scoring on her first touch of the ball in the 2nd minute. She pressured the SHS defenders into coughing up the ball deep in their territory and calmly slotted the ball past the helpless goalkeeper: 1-0. Nice to have Ms. Kiley Clutch back in the team.
And then the shot deluge began. We took 13 shots and 6 corners in the first forty minutes and played some beautiful soccer. But a mix of mediocre finishing and some impressive saves from the Totems keeper kept the game at a single goal margin. And we almost paid a dear price for our lack of ruthlessness, because in the 25th minute, we gifted Sammamish an equalizer. Annika has had an amazing first two games as our goalkeeper: she's been composed and confident, excellent at both shot-stopping and reading the game from her new position; however, in her season-long highlight reel, the 25th minute of the Sammamish game won't be included. Enough said.
Fortunately, the equalizing Sammamish goal re-awakened our girls and we finished the half with two quick goals: Izzy picking up two assists, the first to Carly T from a corner, and then to Kiley from precision throw-in and finish so that by halftime we were back in total control, 3-1.
And in the first four minutes of the second half, we displayed the ruthlessness we were lacking in the first 25 minutes as we stretched our lead to 5-1 with clinical goals from Kiley (her hat-trick from an assist by Carlie G), and an inch-perfect curler from Joelle on the left wing (assist to Isabelle).
The final score was 5-2, but perhaps my favorite moment of the game was Kat's super-save after she had played her first few minutes of varsity soccer. Or just soccer. Ever. It was a great moment, and our bench erupted in cheers and supportive squeals of joy. It's moments like this that make me love coaching high school soccer. So much that I really didn't care that we gave SHS another goal a few minutes after Kat's amazing save. But when you are playing your first game of soccer, or first game of anything, mistakes will happen. So I'm proud of Kat for being confident enough to make mistakes. It's the only way to learn something new. Well done Kat. I'll never forget your season debut.
Of course, we still have a lot of work to do. After the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half, which was very good, we were sloppy: too many poor first touches, wayward passes and forced play. But that's not surprising either, it's early in our campaign, and we are still searching for the right player combinations to really hit our groove. Redmond on Thursday will be an important test. They are a very good side and will compete for one of Kingco's two births to the state tournament. We will need to find a way to stretch our occasional 10 and 15 minutes of beautiful play into a full 80 minutes. And I'm eager to see how our girls will do.